“You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from.”
Welcome to NFL week one!
Each week, we’ll take a look at the most nail-biting, hair-pulling, antacid-reaching beats of the week. Here are my candidates, let me know yours. All lines courtesy of our friends at betonline.ag.
- The Beat: Steelers -10 at Browns, O/U 47
The Bad: Steelers 21, Browns 18
The Takeaway: Is there a better way to kick off the season than with a classic rendition of a performance that never gets old – the backdoor cover? There was little chance the Steelers weren’t going to win – Big Ben is now 22-2 lifetime against the Browns – the only question was by how much. Dave Mason noted the sharps bet the game all the way up to Steelers -10 and pushed the total from 46 to 47. A sharp or square alike could have imagined a statement game from the Steeler offense – finally healthy, suspension and squabble-free with Bell, Brown, Bryant and Ben all suiting up against Cleveland. And things started well – a blocked punt led to a Steeler TD but the Steelers O went stagnant for much of the first half while committing four drive-killing offensive penalties. The second half showed improvement but, as a team, the Steelers committed 13 penalties for 144 yards. Not a great start for Pittsburgh but good enough to cover?
The Browns were trailing by 10 with less than 7 minutes to play when they started the Brown version of The Drive (Towards a Backdoor Cover). We might see that drive a lot this year in Cleveland. 4th and 2 from the Steeler 3 and this happened. And for those of you who may have teased the -10 down to -3.5, you knew that two-point conversion was going to happen, didn’t you?
Fun fact: the Browns offense scored more points than the Steeler offense.
- The Beat: Falcons -7 at Bears
The Bad: Falcons 23, Bears 17
The Takeaway: The Atlanta M/L bettors watched the Shanahan-less Falcon offense tally only 23 points in Chicago against an improving Bear defense. And, yes, the Falcons were on the road, however the 2016 version of the Falcons averaged 31 points outdoors (we’re excluding the 45 they put up at New Orleans last year). The game never felt in doubt for Atlanta…until the game was very much in doubt for Atlanta. With less than a minute to play, the Bears M/L bettors (who should be both admired and pitied), were forced to watch the Chicago offense squander four chances to win the game from the Atlanta 5. Brutal! As for the spread bettors? As happens so often, it all depends on what number you got (the line moved from -6 on Saturday night to -7 on Sunday morning, at most Vegas and Offshore books). This is a rare beat when you feel somewhat bad for everyone involved.
Fun fact: The Falcons scored less than 23 points only once last year.
- The Beat: Seahawks – Packers, Score in last 2:00 of first half, No +240
The Bad: Blair Walsh FG with :04 left in first half
The Takeaway: That FG may seem innocent enough but let’s look at how we got there. At the 2:00 warning, the Packers had a first down at the Seattle 46. It’s looking like a Packer FG attempt is a formality and that would be just fine. Except that an incomplete pass, dump pass and another incomplete pass turned a promising drive into 4th and 7 from the Seattle 43 with 1:07 left. If you had that “no” +240 things are looking GOOD, especially when Seattle takes over at their own 11 and loses a yard running the ball on first down. It looks like we’re going to halftime in a scoreless tie which would have been the first time a game played out that way since 2011. Even Joe Buck thought so: “And it looks like these two sides will play to a scoreless draw. And I lose my bet on the over.” Great stuff, Joe.
Anyway, Green Bay takes a timeout with :48 left. Next play is another Prosise run for 8 yards which makes it 3rd and 3. Another Green Bay timeout, somewhat surprising. And maybe this is good, modern coaching but the Seahawks are still pretty explosive, right? 4 yards Prosise, first down. And now Seattle uses their second timeout with :30 seconds left at their own 22. “We’re one play away now,” says the guy with the “no” bet, “one more play.” Instead, Wilson to Baldwin, 34 yards. And then there was this. And then a Blair Walsh FG.
Those having lost that “no” bet, take solace in this.
- The Beat: Giants – Cowboys, Time of First Score, OVER 6:30, +110
The Bad: Dan Bailey FG 6:28 in First Quarter
The Takeaway: You want to know what’s weird? Forget the fact that in 11 out of 16 regular season Cowboy games last year, the first score occurred with more than 6:30 on the clock. Forget the fact, the same thing happened in 9 of the Giants 16 regular season games last year. Also forget the Cowboys had three attempts from the Giant 3-yard line to go over that bet on Sunday.
What’s weird is this: last year the Cowboys opened against the Giants and Dan Bailey kicked a FG with 6:35 left in the first quarter. Yes, last year you could have cashed that over ticket with 5 seconds to spare. This year, you would have come up 2 seconds short. And that is why it’s called gambling, my friends.
What was your week one bad beat? Tweet me @allstaples or use the hashtag #bettheboardbadbeat to discuss, commiserate, complain, taunt, whatever you’d like. See you next week!